Gabe Newell may be a college drop-out, but these days it seems like that’s a common thread among great minds. Like Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Newell attended Harvard University but eventually dropped out. Today, he’s one of the most respected leaders in the video game industry.
Perhaps ironically, his working career began at Microsoft Corporation, where he stayed for thirteen years. While at Microsoft, Newell worked in various positions in the Systems, Applications, and Advanced Technology divisions. He also was a program manager for the first two versions of Windows, among other notable achievements that eventually led him to become a “Microsoft Millionaire.”
In 1996, he and colleague Mike Harrington left Microsoft to form their own video game company, Valve. Using money from a decade of cashed-in Microsoft stocks to fund Valve, Harrington and Newell embarked on a journey to create the ambitious Half-Life.
The game was designed for Windows PCs and was published by Sierra On-Line after being passed up by others who said the project was too ambitious. Upon its release, Half-Life was wildly successful, winning more than 50 PC Game of the Year awards and being praised for its seamless narrative, realistic gameplay, and presentation. Today, the game is available on a number of platforms, including PlayStation 2, Mac OS x and Linux.
Newell’s company, Valve Software, has since developed the Steam gaming platform, which today has more than 40 million users. The company has also released several other popular titles, including Portal, Portal 2, and Half-Life 2. In 2010, Gabe Newell was listed by Forbes as “A Name You Should Know,” and as of September 2013, his estimated net worth is about $1.15 B.